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The deaths are among a rising number of reports of people being poisoned by carbon monoxide as Texans face a deadly winter storm that has brought record-low temperatures and demands for electricity that overwhelmed the state’s grid, leaving more than 3.2 million people in the dark and with no heat for more than 24 hours.

The Texas grid got crushed because its operators didn’t see the need to prepare for cold weather. As more reports of poisoning emerged Tuesday, government officials sounded the alarm.

The Cy-Fair Fire Department, which provides emergency services to the Cypress-Fairbanks area outside Houston in Harris County, reported Tuesday afternoon that it had been receiving calls about carbon monoxide poisoning and that at least 23 people, including 12 children, in several incidents were taken to hospitals with CO poisoning in the previous 24 hours. All of the incidents had resulted from people using charcoal grills to heat their homes in the freezing conditions, the department said, issuing a stark warning against the use of ovens, grills and generators indoors.

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Emergency crews are overwhelmed and in disaster mode. The responders are scrambling to handle the deluge of 911 calls, most of them related to carbon monoxide detection, house fires or health emergencies involving people dependent on oxygen or electrically powered ventilators, he said.

At least 300 cases of poisoning were reported in Harris County alone since the beginning of the storm, including 90 calls to the Houston Fire Department and 100 cases treated in emergency rooms.

The Cy-Fair Fire Department is encouraging people to avoid using open-flame heaters indoors and to use other approaches such as staying in centrally located closets, which are likely to be the warmest spots in their homes.

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